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Frustrated with decluttering, rearranging, planning -- how do I start LIVING?


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Can anyone relate to this?

 

I feel like a hamster on a wheel.

 

I am exhausted from never-ending efforts to organize, declutter, decorate, rearrange . . . in eighteen years of marriage we've lived in eight homes. We've been in our current home for the longest period of time, going on five years, I think (but, within that five years, we moved out and moved back in once, and readied the house for market two additional times -- long story). So part of the problem is I'm just not good at living in one place (and one of the reasons we've tried to move several times is that this house just doesn't "fit" us; it has never felt like home).

 

Still, I've done this in EVERY house we've ever lived in (it's just usually more fun than it is here). Spring and fall cleaning pretty much go on year round as I constantly try out new furniture arrangements, moving accessories, etc from one room to another (I probably spend more than I should on the house, but I don't think it's excessive, and it certainly isn't causing financial problems for us; mostly I just move stuff around). I used to enjoy this, now I wish I could stop but I just can't seem to tolerate things staying the same way. I look at pictures of our house from when it was on the market and feel a bit overwhelmed; it looked so BEAUTIFUL then with over half of our stuff in storage. So, I go on decluttering binges, but it seems to go from bad to worse. I am hauling stuff out in boxes and bags, but yet today, I found myself purchasing yet more storage bins in an effort to contain and organize stuff.

 

We homeschool, dh and I both teach Sunday school, I have fifteen piano students. There are three instruments in the house. Those activities alone create an amazing amount of "clutter" but all of those things are important, part of who we are. I even like the idea of living surrounded by a certain happy mess of music and books. Yet for some reason I also feel compelled to spend hours working, working, working to organize all of it. Again, this used to be enjoyable to me -- not any more.

 

When I try to relax, things end up getting so out of control that dishes literally fall out of the cabinets and force emergency cleaning. Sometimes I do get into periods of time when I go to the opposite extreme -- just doing the most essential cleaning (only what piano students could see, lol) and I just sit around reading blogs and drinking coffee, and let the house, laundry, and meals go to pieces. We eat a lot of cereal and frozen pizza. There doesn't seem to be a happy medium with me.

 

This is a HUGE problem in our homeschooling. I have driven my poor children to distraction trying to make everything "perfect" to the point that we don't get anything done. There have been issues with completing curriculum, although overall I am satisfied with what we've accomplished. I have such a hard time starting schoolwork in the morning, because I can't concentrate unless the house is straight (which it NEVER is).

 

I remember as a child spending my allowance on planners, organizers . . . I collected shoe boxes and covered them in pretty paper to use for storage. I grew up with a sense that being in control and having my act together was always *just* out of reach; and that I would finally relax if I ever reached that point. Obviously, I never have.

 

For years I thought that EVERYONE lived this way, but I'm starting to get the idea that maybe this isn't normal. I mean, I know fighting clutter is normal for most families, especially homeschoolers. I do fight the cleaning battle pretty much alone -- I do spend a fair amount of time cleaning up after two family members who seem to be actually incapable of noticing their mess (leaving cabinet doors open, certain food items never returned to the fridge, laundry never in the hamper, etc). Still, I don't think it's beyond a normal family messiness.

 

I have piano students in my house twice a week, so I do end up vaccuming, dusting, and cleaning the bathrooms at least twice a week (usually three times). The thing is, I can do that easily in less than an hour. It's not the day to day cleaning that I struggle with. We have three cats so plenty of vaccuuming is necessary. The house never really looks dirty, I'm just painfully aware of all the clutter lurking behind closet and cabinet doors. And then I make a huge mess trying to get it all straight.

 

Everyone who knows me well is convinced that I have ADD. Maybe it's time to seek out treatment, I don't know. I do know that I am planning on homeschooling ninth and fifth grade next year, and if I don't get my act together soon, I'm going to start seriously doubting my ability to do that. I want my kids to remember learning and enjoying life together, not the constant frustration of a mom who can't quit moving junk around. I just want to get the house in order, and clean, cook, and do laundry like a normal person. My husband has next week off from work and we're going to tackle all sorts of chores around the house. I am hoping desperately that I can create some sense of order that I can maintain.

 

Well, bless you if you've read this far. What I hoping is that some of you maybe have experience this same problem, and have OVERCOME it, and can tell me how to do that. Any suggestions?

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I have no advice, because I'm running on the wheel right next to you. When I try to relax, things literally pile up in the corners of the house. PILE. UP. And then my mom, who's the first one to say, "Relax! Take care of yourself! Don't worry about the mess!" comes over and points at the piles and says, "You know, this isn't right..." :banghead:

 

So anyway, I'll be lurking to see if someone has found the magic formula :grouphug:

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I have a large box outside the back door. If people leave stuff around long enough for it to annoy me, that's where it goes. My life isn't long enough to pick up after people can't pick up after themselves, let alone those who can. If stuff stays out there long enough to get ruined (it is under the carport, I'm not completely horrid) it's not my fault. Everyone knows where the box is and can rescue their belongings at any stage.

As far as dishes go, have you tried hiring a toddler, lol. We never have dishes fall out of our cupboards. Dd has smashed all the excess!

 

:)

Rosie- who shares a house with a crumb machine, er, toddler, so really does understand your feelings.

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You know, in a lot of ways I could have written this post. I also love to organize, and then get bored with that system and reorganize it again...I too move every 2-3 years, and in every house I need to find a different way to organize things to fit the space in that house. And, I also tend to fall into extremes, then get frustrated with myself because it just doesn't magically get organized or stay organized and clean and give up...

 

I really, really recommend using a system like flylady. www.flylady.net. At times I use Flylady's system more so than other times, but when I do things really run smoothly. (it freaked me out at first when my house stayed clean for two whole weeks. :lol:)

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I can relate - only i've lived here 5 years and still have stuff in boxes. I'm planning a HUGE purge and de-cluttering thing (just waiting on a few issues to clear up! LOL!!! ). But my STBXH can walk around something for MONTHS. Ask him to take something.... it will sit inthe way. Like the box of stuff that needs to go to the garage (detached, he's area not mine). I moved it out of the way a few weeks ago to kill some ants.... and so it was sitting in themiddle of the walkway to the kitchen all that time. I finally slide it out of the way because obviously he isn't going to DO anything with it. Same for my laundry room he never finished building the counters for... they sit piled with his tools.

 

Anyway, i'm surrounded and need it to go away.

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LOL :lol::lol:

 

I was thinking something very similar as I logged onto this board just now. I'm sitting here, in my living room, looking at such a mess it's not even funny. The carpet is gone from the hallway and part of the living room because we're replacing it with vinyl flooring (waterproof hardwood looking). The hallway is in really bad shape because we have a dog who thinks the hallway is her potty area.

 

Anyway... my living room has been rearranged numerous times and is about to be redone. I'm using the flooring as an excuse. I just can't find that one 'homey' arrangement where everything looks nice. I hate not being able to see the banister of the stairs or the walls. We have so much furniture, it's just crowded around the edges of the room. But we're a family of 5 and all the furniture seems essential.

 

The dining area, the corner of an L-shape combo of living room, dining, kitchen, is also constantly rearranged. I bring in bookshelves to organize all our books, and then remove them because it looks too cluttered. I've done this numerous times. I need an area for our homeschool stuff and we have lots of books. We got rid of more than 1000 books when we downsized into this home but over the past 3 years we've accumulated more. We just don't have the space for them!

 

And we can't move anytime soon. Not in this economy. So I continue moving things around, hoping one day I'll hit upon the magical arrangement. Yeah, that's gonna happen! :tongue_smilie:

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Well, I can't answer your woes except to say that it does sound like OCD (obesssive compulsive disorder). However, about the part about not liking the house you live in. I know about that part.

 

We are very not happy in this place, it is not the right location, definitely not the right size or lay out, however I have made a conscious decision to be thankful instead (outwardly, not just inwardly). We have a wonderful shelter, it is newish and requires little upkeep (some, but not much), our yard is in need of a lawn-man, but hey, we have a yard, and a safe place for the kids to live in and play. The place might be small, but there is a reason why we are living here. Perhaps that reason isto learn to be appreciative... I don't know.

 

I think it is a good thing you ahve the students over so you feel at least then the place is under control. It sounds to me as if you just feel as if the place is falling apart while it really isn't, and that your biggest concern is that you can't get started unless everything is just so. Well, that's called perfectionism (to a t!!), and I deal/have dealt witht hat over the years. I used to be limiting myself severely and spent most of our homeschooling years never doing everything I wanted to do because in my mind things were still not right. I kid you not but this last year I have just jumped into a lot of things -with amazing results. I still have high standards, but instead of over-thinking before I jsut start, hoping things will work out (which they have). The reason I haveeeen able to overcome my perfectionism before undertaking projects/homeschooling events is simply that my kids have needed to get started. Encouraging kids to perform well -albeit not perfectionistic-is a huge favor. I'd rather see them out there than cowering for fear of not doing things perfectly (as I did as a young child). Kids pick up from us....

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:grouphug:

 

I'm so sorry, this sounds tough. I know nothing about ADD, but if your friends are suggesting this then please follow up on it. Even if you go to a health food store and begin there. I would go nuts if I had alot of stuff and ate cereal and frozen pizza all the time. That's just me and it sounds like you too.

 

Flylady did look interesting to me, but I just couldn't go through with the implementation. I'm organizationally challenged, but I like a fairly neat house. I really stumble if things are bothering me AND I have to do school.

 

Could you temporarily sign up the kids for k12 or time4learning and take a month off from piano lessons? Then start deep cleaning and decluttering in one area. Finish that area and move on. Call it a job for a certain time. Like if you were hired to go to someone's house and you HAD to work there...then wake up at a certain time and put in your 8 hours (or whatever). Really dedicate yourself to take back control of your home and school so you can get back on track and be satisified with your life. Include your kids in the process to save your back :001_smile:. They will learn organizational skills, help their family out and in the end they will be rewarded by having a less stressed mom and more sit down homecooked meals. Plus, you could offer some payment/reward to them. I think kids should have to help out in their house, but a reward for hard work would be nice to.

 

If you decluttered and sold alot of items it will just help you be more settled in this home, and make it easier to move when you are able to. Stuff is just stuff and if you had a house fire it's all gone. It's so hard sometimes, I get it, but once it's gone you will feel so much better. So ask yourself what you really need. Same for your kids and their toys, clothes, games, etc. I usually have to go through our clothes and toys at least twice a year to stay sane, but it also helps my kids stay sane because they somehow wind up with more than they can pick-up and clean themselves (they are 9,7, 5, so there are more toys than you have I'm sure).

 

I'd love to hear back from you on your progess...because you WILL make progress in all of this and you WILL feel better once it's done.

 

God Bless,

Alison in KY

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Could you temporarily sign up the kids for k12 or time4learning and take a month off from piano lessons?

 

Just a note here... K12 is not an independent program and it includes a lot of books. My children are enrolled in subjects from 5th through 8th grade and they need my help on all of it. And it's because of K12 that I have to have the bookshelf in my dining room because of the number of workbooks and books that go along with their program. Aieee!!! :tongue_smilie:

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I used to do things the way you described. I was driving myself crazy. I finally decided to use the summer for one big declutter, deep clean, get things ready for school for the year. I forced myself to live with it that way and JUST do school, regular cleaning, etc. through the school year. I did not let myself think about big jobs, moving things around, etc. until the summer rolls around. That has worked for me. I maintain during the school year, big jobs wait for summer.

 

If I feel the urge to start decluttering, moving things around, etc. during the school year, I just put it to the back of my mind and know it will get done in the summer. Knowing there is a time when I can do all those things without interfering with schoolwork, daily life, etc. helps me to let it go for the time being.

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Oh, thanks so much, everyone. It's so good to know that I am not alone in my struggles!

 

Some things y'all said really clicked with me . . .

 

Flylady -- always a good starting place; her method doesn't really work for me, BUT I have recently realized that I am happier with a schedule, a routine to follow. Everything went out the window when my oldest dd went out to school, I kind of figured I would get all the chores done while she was gone (not!). So, the girls and I are back on a chore schedule and that is keeping up the laundry and basic cleaning much, much better.

 

ADD/OCD/perfectionism -- yup. I don't know that I expressed this very clearly, but I can spend hours working on *perfectly clean and acceptable areas of the house* just because . . . well, just because. Because something else might look better, or work better. Moving bookshelves from one side of the room to another. Switching accessories between the bedroom and the living room to get a fresh look. I don't think this was a problem when I *enjoyed* doing it. Decorating was a pleasant hobby (I do love a pretty house). But, it's not fun (or necessary) anymore and yet I can't seem to stop! Like someone said, though, I just can't seem to find that homey feeling that I had at my last house (we reluctantly moved because the neighborhood was going down fast, but I. loved. that. house.)

 

Same with homeschooling: I've been guilty of dropping perfectly good and acceptable programs . . . just because. Because something might work better, or because I was bored (sometimes because it really is a bad fit). I can't seem to get control of my diet or exercise, because I can't figure out which program to follow; what time of day is the "right" time to exercise, etc. (Yeah, living off cereal and frozen pizza doesn't help, either). I pulled up the file from our monthly menu and started using that again; maybe being more consistent in eating healthy will be a good place to start.

 

SO FUNNY that someone should mention Time4Learning -- my older dd is in school, so she's all set, and a couple of weeks ago I signed my younger dd up for Time4Learning. Her school work has fallen to pieces due to a winter of serious illness, and I thought this would be a good way to fill in the gaps. So, she does at least one math and one language lesson every day. This is definitely giving me some breathing room. My goal is to try to get "settled" before the end of May; take June to enjoy summer break with the girls, and then be ready to start our new school year in July. Taking time off from piano isn't an option, but it's also what keeps me motivated to keep the day to day cleaning done. I'll have June off for sure.

 

Contentment/thankfulness -- definitely. We can see all kinds of ways that God spared us from bad decisions in trying to move, so that helps. I think the thankful part is set, it's the contentment issue that still needs work. There's a house that I would buy tomorrow if I could -- but what a bad time to try to move, kwim?

 

It sounds like the general consensus is that it really is okay to take some time and try to deal with getting rid of some clutter, and getting everyone settled into a good chore routine, so I'm going to make that a priority.

 

You know how when you start a major project, you get about 80% done, and you look around and panic, because you've made things SO MUCH WORSE than when you've started? But then you keep plodding along and at some point, everything is SO MUCH BETTER? I think I'm at the 80% mark and a little bit stuck. Thanks for the encouragement to keep trying.

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Christy B,

 

:grouphug:

 

My suggestion is to just "be" for a while. Drop all the organizing/arranging/decluttering, etc. Focus on the everyday things...meals, school, family time, work. See who you are right now and notice what works. Really key on what works well in your house. My thought is that you can find out what is working and apply it other areas.

 

:grouphug:

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I feel like a hamster on a wheel.

 

Me too!

 

in eighteen years of marriage we've lived in eight homes.

 

Married 25 years, moved 13 times!

 

There doesn't seem to be a happy medium with me.

 

This "All or Nothing" syndrome is pretty common in people with certain personality types. It's me for sure.

 

This is a HUGE problem in our homeschooling. I have such a hard time starting schoolwork in the morning, because I can't concentrate unless the house is straight (which it NEVER is).

 

I have this exact same problem. But I decided that If I did ANYTHING right, it was going to have to be homeschooling. I HAVE to have things planned out in advance. I plan the whole year in general and then do specific plans for a month at a time. I NEVER start a month without a daily plan for each subject. Then I DECIDED that I would never let the house interfere with school. Pig sty or not, we do school FIRST! We just take all the cr*p off the kitchen table, pile it on the counters, the floor, the couch, what ever and DO SCHOOL. I certainly hate it this way. I am TRYING to change it. But until I do, school WILL BE DONE, mess or no mess. Dinner or no dinner. I made this a non-negotiable in my mind and have kept it up, much to my own shock.

 

I remember as a child spending my allowance on planners, organizers . .

 

I spent saturdays re-organizing the office supply closet at my father's business. It wasn't messy in the first place, but I'd take EVERYTHING out and re-organize it. CREATING a sense of order out of anything is fun and energizing for me.

 

I grew up with a sense that being in control and having my act together was always *just* out of reach; and that I would finally relax if I ever reached that point. Obviously, I never have.

 

Mantaining a sence of order in my own life has proved impossible so far. My best friend calls me an "organized wanna-be." I have more charts, schedules, plans and plastic boxes then ANYBODY! But I don't seem to be able to "work" the plan.

 

For years I thought that EVERYONE lived this way, but I'm starting to get the idea that maybe this isn't normal.

 

 

While standing in a pile of clean, unfolded, laundry at the side of my bed, ( there is only 2' of space between my bed and the dresser, so I had to stand in it to get in bed!) and looking around at the disaster, I said to my husband, "This isn't NORMAL!" He said, "I think it is more normal then you realize!" That made me feel a little better anyway.

 

I'm just painfully aware of all the clutter lurking behind closet and cabinet doors. And then I make a huge mess trying to get it all straight.

 

I feel like it is a weight on me, a thorn in my side...I CAN'T get it off my mind. My husband will come home and say, "Wow, Lisa, you cleaned out the linen closet, but the dishes aren't done, the deposit didn't get made and there's nothing for dinner?"

 

Everyone who knows me well is convinced that I have ADD.

 

:lol: One day a couple of years ago I asked my adult daughter, "Do you think maybe I have ADD? She burst into laughter and said, "Are you kidding mom? You don't know? Of course you have ADD!"

 

I just want to get the house in order, and clean, cook, and do laundry like a normal person.

 

Again, it's more normal then you think. It happens to be YOUR normal for now. (not saying you can't change.) Organized people have their own ways of being "not normal". At least I keep telling myself that!

 

If I were you, I would just STOP buying STUFF. I have really come to the conclusion that too much stuff is part of the problem for me. Maybe someone else can handle keeping it all organized, but I can't. I have given way tons of stuff that most people would consider usefull. But I had to pare things down to only essentials. Especially in the kitchen. If you have something that you don't use OFTEN and that you could borrow, or manage to do with out - get rid of it, even if you thought you wanted it in the first place. Home decor too - you may think it's pretty, but if it is cluttering up your mind - it's doing you know service. I do not buy decor for my house anymore. I have enough. For me, it is a waste of money and a burden to my mind.

 

A lot of people will say that you should "establish a routine" ( fly lady says this and gives examples - she's great.) But here's the problem for me - I HAVE THE ROUTINE - I just can't DO it. So, I have no answer for you there. Sorry, I just sympathize with the difficulty.

 

I'm sorry I don't have more concrete advice for you. I just wanted you to know that many other people are the same. You ARE normal, just not perfect - no one is. We all have our problems and shortcomings. And don't worry about the kids. I have 3 adult children who grew up in my chaos. They love me tons. They are normal. ( what ever that means) They don't think back on their life and moan about my lack of organizational skills.

 

I have not found the answers to being organized and clutter free. I have gotten better over the years - still not "normal" in my mind. I would encourage you to keep trying, but to relax and realize that agonizing about what you don't like, will steal from you the joys from the parts of your life that you do like. That's not worth it. A little bit of acceptance of the situation will actually help you to do better with it - I think anyway.

 

Getting treatment for ADD may be one avenue to try. I never have, but think it is certainly a reasonable choice.

 

God Bless!

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I remember as a child spending my allowance on planners, organizers . . . I collected shoe boxes and covered them in pretty paper to use for storage. I grew up with a sense that being in control and having my act together was always *just* out of reach; and that I would finally relax if I ever reached that point. Obviously, I never have.

 

This sounds like me. I was always rearranging my room, spent hours in my room organizing it. The rest of my parent's house was always clean, but not organized. My room was my little area of perfection. I tried to organize for my mom, but I had a hard time with paperwork and such because my mom never knew what most of it was, and so I had no idea what to do with it. My mom says she misses me helping her with this.

 

I used to routinely check my markers to see which ones had dried up, and caps were always up. I've taught my boys the caps up thing too.

 

I am the same today. Instruction manuals are filed in a banker's box in categories with receipts stapled to the manual. There are no junk drawers. I prefer to have only one type of kitchen hand towel -- mixed patterns bother me. Glasses are lined up in the cabinet with like glass. I don't like a lot of mismatched cups/plates, which I have bent on because of certain special cups/plates my boys wanted. They do have their own special cup as well to help daytime questioning of whose drink is whose.

 

My beans, rice, lentils are in labeled jars.

 

I have a nighttime routine. The boys clean up their toys and get ready for bed. After the boys get ready for bed, I do my daily load of laundry. While they're reading, I vacuum -- every night. I start the dishwasher when I go to bed. If I'm up late enough, I unload it then as well. If not, one of us does it in the morning. Also, if I'm up late enough, I fold the laundry before I go to bed, if not, the boys help me in the moning. They boys put their own clothes away -- neatly (I check). I don't allow piles of laundry to form, and quite frankly, with such a small house, there is no room for laundry to pile up.

 

For years I thought that EVERYONE lived this way, but I'm starting to get the idea that maybe this isn't normal. I mean, I know fighting clutter is normal for most families, especially homeschoolers. I do fight the cleaning battle pretty much alone -- I do spend a fair amount of time cleaning up after two family members who seem to be actually incapable of noticing their mess (leaving cabinet doors open, certain food items never returned to the fridge, laundry never in the hamper, etc). Still, I don't think it's beyond a normal family messiness.

 

 

There really is a place for everything around here, and everything is supposed to be put back in its place. I have to give reminders, but I try not to do it for them. I will call the boys back in the kitchen, even if they are outside, to put the bread away and such. I have them clean up mid-day as well, and I try to get them in the habit of putting one thing away before they start another. I still have to remind them to put movies away.

 

Dirty clothes on the floor is one thing I have no tolerance for. We have a hamper, and a small house, and I expect dirty clothes to go there when they are removed from the body. I expect towels to be hung up. I do have to remind from time to time, but for the most part, this is not a problem.

 

Now, my husband owned this house when we married, so I have never had the benefit of choosing a house. I have essentially chosen to find this one to be a house that meets our needs. I do not forsee us ever moving. Our goal is to have this house paid for in two years -- we're paying our new van off in the next 2 months. Our goal is for my husband (who is self-employed) to cut back his work when we pay the house off so that he can spend more time with the boys and not be so stressed.

 

We did some renovations in the L-shaped living area which comprises about 2/3rds if the house this winter. It is perfect for us. It's a small house --1,100 sq ft with 5 of us. But, it is very organized and stream-lined. I got rid of a lot of stuff. I just removed another three trash bags of things this past week -- one bag of tablecloths and cloth napkins. We just never use them, and I'm tired of them taking up space.

 

There is seriously a place for everything, and at the end of the day before everyone puts their heads to their pillows, I expect things to be back in their place. So, scissors are back in the scissors compartment in the desk drawer, pens are back in the pen cup, toys are in their appropriate bin, remote controls are back where they should be, etc. Sometimes, I'll find something after the boys go to bed that belongs in their room (perhaps it was lying on their toy table in the living area), I'll place it on their clothes pile to be put away the following morning.

 

I do still thrive on order, my husband loves it, and my eldest (though he is a fan of junk drawers, bless his soul!), said the other day that he hopes he marries someone with at least the same cleanliness/organizational level that I have. When he visits his bio. mom, he starts cleaning up the house like crazy because he cannot stand the clutter.

 

I do have to give in a little. For example, for Nathan, organized means all of his drawing and extra paper are stacked in one pile on his bed (he keeps his drawing stuff and some other things on his bed b/c he listens to books a lot and draws, and he writes stories on his bed). For me, having the blank paper in a separate container and the drawings filed by type would make me giddy. Ah, well, an OCD like me has to learn to live with those less gifted in their organizational skills (LOL), but I will not tolerate outright messy or failure to put things in their home. Yes, I remind often, but:

 

I also think it is key to declutter to a manageable amount of stuff and have an actual place for it -- with labels at times. My boys have grown up knowing their there is a drawer for the lincoln logs, a drawer for the foam stickers, bins for the Playmobil by type (people go in one, animals in another, etc). Clean-up was much easier even when they were really small because they could see that blocks went here, etc.

 

I don't really tire of being this way. It actually makes my life easier. I can find things immediately. I have a certain peaceful feeling when I look around before I go to bed. I don't feel like it takes so much time that I'm not living, but when I did the huge purge during our renovation, I was quite frazzled. I was determined, though, to simplify our things. And I did. I've gone through every closet, drawer, cabinet, etc. It took time, but it's done.

 

I've decorated simply, and I'm done. I'm not a person who needs to buy new curtains four months later. I pick what I want, and we use them until they actually need replacing. Having too many extras of anything clutters my house.

 

Learning to be content has been very important. I can always see other people with their fabulous, large houses and get envious. But, I truly love my organized, clean, cozy house. It has kept me from being able to buy too much. LOL I am mindful of our financial goals. No, we don't have debt here and there, but we want to be free of all debt in two years and then spend more time living and less time working.

Edited by nestof3
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I was feeling the same way a couple of weeks ago--I could have written your post! So, now I have a goal. Everyday I declutter just ONE thing.

 

Just ONE thing.

 

At the end of a year, I will have decluttered 365 things.

 

My first thing I decluttered (for the whole day) was one pair of earrings.

 

The next day I decluttered 3 owl figurines from the attic. Then 37 baby shower gift bags from the closet. A Christmas tin can. A few shirts that didn't fit anymore. An old pair of boots with holes in them from the bottom of the closet. A blender from the shed that was never taken out of the box.

 

It's been 3 weeks and so I've gotten rid of over 21 things (because once I pulled out one shirt, I grabbed a few more. And once I found the first owl figurine, the other 2 were right next to it.)

 

My goal is only ONE thing a day. If I happen to (easily) get rid of more than one thing, that's a bonus. But once I've done my ONE thing, I'm free to stop.

 

I've had such peace about it, and I've already seen a dent in the clutter.

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That's a great idea -- baby steps.

 

I was feeling the same way a couple of weeks ago--I could have written your post! So, now I have a goal. Everyday I declutter just ONE thing.

 

Just ONE thing.

 

At the end of a year, I will have decluttered 365 things.

 

 

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I am a messie mom with messie kids, but...

I read Sandra Felton's "Neat Mom, Messie Kids: A Survival Guide" and I was inspired. :D

 

One thing that really stuck in my mind from the book is this idea of the mom being a "manager" rather than just a "worker" when it comes to keeping the home neat and organized. (I'm trying to implement the things I learned from the book,... as usual, change comes slowly...)

 

(I know, people who already know how to organize and keep things tidy around the house have commented that Felton's book seems "preachy" or unhelpful, but for a natural messie, her tips help me gain a modicum of tidiness in my home. :001_smile:)

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Guest janainaz

This is such an interesting topic for me. I relate all too well. Yes, I do think it's some sort of ADD, or full-blown, I don't know. I would never take medication for something like that, I just accept I'm insane :glare: and carry on.

 

I can't start school without beds made, laundry going/put away, kitchen clean, bathrooms clean, etc. I have to feel organized to start my day. I literally can't function with it any other way. Yet, I consider myself a messy-neat freak. I clean stuff out and then get busy and stuff gets stuck where it does not always go. Right when it's just borderline out-of-control (for me) - I clean it. I don't think I really have great organization skills and I drive my husband up the wall in putting stuff back in different places all the time. He complains and yet because things are still visually organized - I feel annoyed.

 

My dh always tells me, "everyone deserves a day off". Yah right! If I take a day off cleaning, I'm ten times as stressed the next day. That just does not happen.

 

As far as re-arranging furniture, my earliest memories of insanity were moving my own bed, dresser and nightstand at five years old. I had super-human strength because of my strong-will and I would re-arrange my room constantly. I have few options in my house now because of nooks and the set up of my house. Otherwise, I would be moving stuff around, as well. Now I just do my kids rooms! I also remember that every Christmas I would put all my gifts just outside my bedroom door, take all my stuff out of my room and reorganize everything. Of course, my organizing may not always make complete sense to the common every-day person. I know someone could organize a zillion times better than I do.

 

I am not a happy, content, nice or peaceful person with the house messy. I am not at peace with disaster drawers, messy closets, etc. I can start cleaning in the kitchen, have the water running, run to get a hand-towel and find myself stopping "really quick" to fold a load of laundry. All the while, the water is still running. I do this all the time, I can't stay focused on one thing. That absolutely has to be ADD.

 

I get a flood of pictures in my mind of all that needs to be done and it overwhelms my brain and that is why I jump from task to task. I have so many things I want to learn and do and yet I can't seem to just focus on one thing because I get overwhelmed by eighteen other things. Homeschooling I don't have issues, not with organization and not with getting stuff done. I have a homeschool closet and it's very organized and we just do a lesson every day in each subject. It's effortless (unless we decide to do a project and I make a huge deal out of it in my mind).

 

I don't know if there are any good answers. For me, I just know that I have to have certain days or weekends that I deep clean and get things organized where I feel good. I have to clean in the morning before school and it's just part of who I am. I know lots of moms who are the same way and then there are some that it just does not matter to at all. It seems that every friend I have is on the other side of the spectrum. Very strange. One little thing that has helped me get stuff done faster is my ipod. For some reason having music on helps me to focus better on a particular task. It can take me an hour to fold and put a couple loads of laundry away becuaes I get distracted and can't focus. If I have music on, it's effortless. I'm grateful for just little things that help me in that way. You've got to just accept your personality and work around it.

:tongue_smilie:

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That's a great idea -- baby steps.

 

Yes, I was just going to say that! Baby Steps! Good for you Garga!

 

To the OP, I think maybe there's a surfeit of STUFF in your home? There's a book which comes to mind called The Paradox of Choice - why more is less (you can catch the author on TED

)

 

& it's more about choice in the marketplace etc creating stress but I also think that more stuff in the home creates stress.

 

There's no point reorganizing unless you're throwing stuff out. For me it helps to have dh involved - he's much less sentimental about 'my' stuff (and v.v.) so we help each other declutter. If it's an item of clothing, our rule is that if you want to keep it, you must commit to wearing it in public within the next 90 days. :D

 

I would suggest you follow Garga's lead & chuck out 1 thing a day. Set an area in your garage & put out the stuff there. Put a date on your calendar towards the end of each month & on that day you'll take what's there to the goodwill. It helps to put the things in a cardboard box or a black garbage bag so you don't see what's in there & start second guessing yourself. Just take it unopened & give it away. On the way home, give yourself a consumable treat to celebrate - a chick movie in a theatre alone? a dvd rental? a fancy coffee at a cafe? Reward yourself for your steps.

 

Also, can you carve the house into say 12 sections & do a section per month? Just focus on that area for a month.

 

Bottom line is you have to get rid of stuff; no point in shuffling mess around if there's too much of it & nowhere to put it.

 

Also, make it a rule that from now on, nothing comes into the house unless an item of similar volume goes out. So if you buy a new vase, an old vase (or another item of similar volume, perhaps a toy?) has to end up in the cardboard goodwill box.

 

I don't know about it being ocd or add or any of those things. What I think it IS strongly linked to is a feeling of being out of control & a desire to try to control things. I personally think it's a thing to meditate upon, this issue of what we can and can't control and how we should feel about it.

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The problem with me is I that I LOVE to organize. The more organization the better. I can't tell you how many times I've opened excel to start a new spreadsheet to organize something. Shopping lists, weekly/monthly menues, cleaning details, homeschool schedules, you name it.

 

What I have come to realize is that "organizing" is just a way for me to feel in control without actually doing any organizing! The more complicated the system is, the harder it is to follow though, so a few months later I need to come up with a new organizational plan.

 

What works best for me is to simplify. It can't be about organizing but setting up some routine that I can follow rather easily.

 

I get a flood of pictures in my mind of all that needs to be done and it overwhelms my brain and that is why I jump from task to task. I have so many things I want to learn and do and yet I can't seem to just focus on one thing because I get overwhelmed by eighteen other things. :tongue_smilie:

 

I wish I were more like you Janainaz. I get those same pictures in my head of those other eighteen things that needs to be done, but instead of running around GETTING them done, I freeze up and get almost nothing done. It's actually very frurstrating. It's like I feel defeated before I get started.

 

Anyway...I've got to go...I'm in the process of "organizing my pantry" right now, which entails spending the next hour or so looking up different tupperwear type containers to store all my foodstuff in...knowing that once it's all organized, the food will then jump out and start cooking itself and life will be peaceful for me. Right???

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It sounds to me as if you just feel as if the place is falling apart while it really isn't, and that your biggest concern is that you can't get started unless everything is just so. Well, that's called perfectionism (to a t!!), and I deal/have dealt witht hat over the years. I used to be limiting myself severely and spent most of our homeschooling years never doing everything I wanted to do because in my mind things were still not right. I kid you not but this last year I have just jumped into a lot of things -with amazing results. I still have high standards, but instead of over-thinking before I jsut start, hoping things will work out (which they have). The reason I haveeeen able to overcome my perfectionism before undertaking projects/homeschooling events is simply that my kids have needed to get started. Encouraging kids to perform well -albeit not perfectionistic-is a huge favor. I'd rather see them out there than cowering for fear of not doing things perfectly (as I did as a young child). Kids pick up from us....

 

:iagree: I can relate very much to Nadia's post. Over-thinking and perfectionism can be paralyzing. I think many women struggle with this. :grouphug:

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I think Garga & Hornblower are on the right track. Get rid of stuff (and lots of it) before letting yourself reorganize or rearrange or redecorate.

 

Simplify. A lot. Get rid of stuff. Then, get rid of more.

 

It's hard to do. (I'm working on that myself.) But, every little bit that goes out adds to the overall calm & ease of life in our home.

 

Less really is more.

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I too, like a neat and organized home, but I find that if I am imposing this "rule" on my children they are...I dunno...stifled in some way. For example: my dd loves to write stories. These are not Newberry worthy stories, but more like "My Guinea Pig Did THIS today...", but they take up 12 pages of paper, and tiny bits of paper that's been cut up for decorating the cover, and maybe some watercolors to decorate, and certainly TAPE!!! We HAVE TO TAPE THIS, MOM! And now where is the stapler? Okaaaayyyyyyy.... Now my head is spinning and I feel like shrieking "WHY ARE THE SCISSORS AND TAPE LEFT HERE!" Seriously, I have to let some if it go or they'd never build a fort that they could come back to the next day. DD loves to make a "store" or a "school" and she will make signs and rearrange things and tape the signs to the walls. Then they claim they want to play with it again tomorrow, so please can it stay the way it is?

 

I dunno. I guess I don't fit into this thread in a way because I am so tired of making everyone else in my family fit into my idea of what clean is. They need their space to set something on the bar in the kitchen and expect it to still be there in 20 minutes, right? They live here too?

 

But I DO LOVE Rosie's idea of getting a big box and setting it outside the back door! I LOVE IT! If your thing sits there long enough, maybe even if I've reminded you to clean it up, then out it goes. Ruined or not. I'm so doing this!!!

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I too, like a neat and organized home, but I find that if I am imposing this "rule" on my children they are...I dunno...stifled in some way. For example: my dd loves to write stories. These are not Newberry worthy stories, but more like "My Guinea Pig Did THIS today...", but they take up 12 pages of paper, and tiny bits of paper that's been cut up for decorating the cover, and maybe some watercolors to decorate, and certainly TAPE!!! We HAVE TO TAPE THIS, MOM! And now where is the stapler? Okaaaayyyyyyy.... Now my head is spinning and I feel like shrieking "WHY ARE THE SCISSORS AND TAPE LEFT HERE!" Seriously, I have to let some if it go or they'd never build a fort that they could come back to the next day. DD loves to make a "store" or a "school" and she will make signs and rearrange things and tape the signs to the walls. Then they claim they want to play with it again tomorrow, so please can it stay the way it is?

 

 

This sounds just like our house. And, yes, I do let the boys take out all they need for creativity. They do have to put back scissors and such, though. If they plan to use it the next day, they just have to set it neatly aside (unless it's a fort). Nathan's bed contains stacks of stories he's still working on. My neat freak self wants to just sweep it all in the trash, but of course that's hardly appropriate. I too love looking through them, so I just bear it. :) Truly those things are more important than a clean bed.

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Don Aslett has a set of useful and very funny books about streamlined cleaning and decluttering. His take on clutter is that possessions take a lot of time to maintain and by getting rid of what we don't need, we can have more time for the things that matter the most to us. That's been said by lots of people, but his way of approaching it gets you to laugh, which is a great start to actually doing the decluttering. Clutter's Last Stand is his decluttering book. His cleaning books are great too. (I know you're fed up at the moment with decluttering but maybe if it's fun and it gets you somewhere, you'll feel differently about it. Maybe it's decluttering over and over that's more of a nuisance to you.)

 

But it sounds as if the biggest difficulty you are having is that you are feeling the urge to do things over and over and are finding it very difficult to get yourself to do what you'd really prefer to be doing instead. The ADD/OCD angle might be well worth looking into, as others have said. Medical help (conventional or alternative) may help you. One interesting approach to OCD, though, simply recognizes the power of doing things differently. Relabeling an obsessive urge and then resisting it for 15-30 minutes and doing something intentional and productive instead can cause those urges to diminish over time. It rewires the brain (b/c of neuroplasticity) and also fits in very well with any religion or philosophy that values a deliberate and directed life. A book called Brain Lock discusses this approach.

 

People with OCD are very motivated by fear--their repetitive behaviors are motivated by a desire to avoid some bad thing they fear will happen if they don't do the behavior--so this may not be exactly your area or issue, but I mention the book just in case it might be helpful to you or to someone else.

 

You've gotten a lot of great answers--best wishes and my prayers.

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